The Cascadia Subduction Zone is a crack in the earth’s crust, roughly fifty kilometres offshore, running 1,100 kilometres from northern Vancouver Island to northern California. About every 500 years this fault generates a monster earthquake. There is roughly a thirty percent chance that it could happen again within the next fifty years. Or it could happen tonight. Without a doubt, the coming quake is one day closer today than it was yesterday.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone is virtually identical to the offshore fault that wrecked Sumatra in 2004, and it will generate the same type of earthquake, a magnitude nine or higher. It will send crippling shockwaves across a far wider area than any of the California quakes you’ve ever heard about, slamming five cities at the same time: Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland and Sacramento. Cascadia’s fault will wreck dozens of smaller towns and coastal villages -- and no one in these places will be able to call their neighbours for help.
Written by a journalist who has been following this story for twenty-five years, Cascadia’s Fault tells the tale of this devastating future earthquake and the tsunamis it will spawn.
The recent seismic catastrophe in Japan is a foretaste of a similar cataclysm brewing in America, according to this alarming geological expos . Thompson, a former Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter and documentarian, investigates the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an 800-mile-long fault where the ocean floor slowly grinds away underneath the North American continental plate. The fault has a millennia-long history of causing major quakes, including magnitude-9 monsters and 90-foot waves that could lay waste to Vancouver, Seattle, and dozens of coastal towns. But because no written records of this history exist and the fault has been quiescent since 1700, geologists were unaware of the danger. How they uncovered the violent history of this deceptively placid area, long a subject of academic controversy, is the fascinating scientific detective story at the heart of Thompson's account. He follows along as researchers piece together clues from ocean sediment core samples and tree rings, antique Japanese manuscripts, and laser gadgets and GPS devices that measure the inch-a-year movements of mountain chains; he blanches as their computer models illustrate the devastating impact of tsunamis and the fatal rhythms through which skyscrapers resonate to a temblor's shocks. The result is a lucid, engrossing look at the Earth's subtle dynamics and a timely warning about their awesome power very close to home.